GONE: Gail Doggett is concerned that all the birds have disappeared from her South Lismore garden.
GONE: Gail Doggett is concerned that all the birds have disappeared from her South Lismore garden. Francis Witsenhuysen

Mystery of Lismore's disappearing birds

FOR the last 11 years, Gail Doggett's garden has been full of birds.

But about six weeks ago they all mysteriously disappeared.

Ms Doggett's garden fronts the river in South Lismore and is usually alive with finches, wrens, different species of tiny honey eaters and willy wagtails, who would splash about in her three bird baths all day.

But she hasn't has one bird come to visit since the end of January.

"I used to get up to 20 little finches in one of those bird baths and they'd all get in there and flutter together and it would be like a fountain,” Ms Doggett said.

"I used to enjoy them a lot, it was part of the pleasure of my garden.

"I first noticed they were gone when the weather was hideous about six weeks ago, it was around the day that was nearly about 40 degrees.”

Every day since, she has put fresh water in the bird baths in case they came back.

"I expected them to come back, I just thought it was hot and they were hiding somewhere,” she said.

"My theory is they got dehydrated and died, or they have gone somewhere.

"There were less birds after the flood but they were just starting to come back.”

After hearing the same thing has happened to friends and acquaintances living in the Lismore area, Ms Doggett's main concern is that the issue is "bigger than her backyard garden”.

"My gardener lives out towards Nimbin in the bush and she still has her birds, but we are in the wok (Lismore),” she said.

"It's concerning because birds are pollinators like insects - there's a whole thing going on about the decline of insects around the world.

"Without insects and birds there's less pollinating happening. It's part of the Armageddon of where we are going with climate change.”

WIRES Northern Rivers avian trainer and experienced bird carer, Melanie Barsony, said while there hadn't been reports of birds disappearing from gardens in the Lismore area, it was "definitely a general issue because of the drought”.

"It's because of the season, the lack of rain and not being enough insects and food around.,” she said.

"The dramatic decrease in insects affects the native bird population - who eat insects- particularly when they have chicks.

"We are aware of it ... it's a matter of waiting out till we get some rain.

"If others are noticing their birds disappearing, they could contact Bird Life Australia who do the bird counts.”

Hep local bird life by:

  • Supplying water - dishes on the ground or bird baths near bushy trees
  • Planting native trees
  • Not feeding the wildlife
  • Installing compost heaps
  • leaving corners of your garden wild